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Mead, Elwood (16 January 1858–26 January 1936), U.S. Commissioner of Reclamation, was born near Patriot, Indiana, the son of David B. Mead, a farmer, and Lucinda Davis. Mead spent his early years studying in a one-room schoolhouse, doing chores on his father’s farm, and enjoying “long summer days playing in the groves of ash, oak, wild cherry, hickory, poplar, and walnut trees along the slopes of the Ohio River.” In this idyllic, mid-nineteenth-century setting he came to value the benefits of rural community life even as he broadened his horizons in his grandfather’s library, reputed to be the largest personal one in southern Indiana....